Boulder County is in for yet another cold night and chilly commute, as the Front Range will see yet another day of snow and freezing temperatures Wednesday.
Boulder County has seen nothing but snow and freezing temperatures since Sunday, and Tuesday morning was no different as a cold front moved through the area between about 5 and 6 a.m.
“We had a pretty good shot of snow right behind the cold front that went through,” said David Barjenbruch with the National Weather Service. “We got a quick round of snow with 2 to 4 inches across Boulder County.”
Barjenbruch said the cold front did arrive a bit earlier than expected.
“It was a fast and pretty good heavy burst of snow that came in just a little before daybreak instead of a little after daybreak,” Barjenbruch said.
With the timing and intensity of snowfall, it was a snarled morning commute across the Front Range, with multiple cities going on accident alert and numerous crashes, including a bus slide-off in Berthoud.
Despite the weather, Boulder Valley and St. Vrain Valley schools both opened on regular schedules, which led to some angry parents on social media.
The Boulder Valley School District is OPEN and operating on normal schedule today. We encourage everyone to take it slow and carefully this morning.
— Boulder Valley School District (@BVSDcolorado) October 29, 2019
But Boulder Valley spokesman Randy Barber said the district has to take multiple things into account when making the decision to remain open, including the fact that snow days can create hardships for some students and families.
“Unless it is a complete blizzard, it’s never going to happen that everyone is on the same page,” Barber said.
Barber said the district had teams monitoring both road conditions and the weather forecast early Tuesday, but crews had to make the final decision as the worst of the storm was just moving in.
“The weather in Colorado is highly unpredictable,” Barber said. “Even late last night and early this morning, it was still calling for snow to come in a little later… It’s hard to predict whether it makes sense to delay or close, so it puts us in a tough position.”
Boulder Valley and St. Vrain Valley had delayed starts on Monday, but Barber said the difference on those days was the forecast called for snow to cease in the morning.
“We knew that the forecast showed if we waited a little longer, plows could have a little more time on the roads and the weather would clear up a little bit,” Barber said. “This time, a delayed start would have moved us further into the snow event.”
— Mitchell Byars (@mitchellbyars) October 29, 2019
Michael Friesen, who has two sons in Boulder Valley schools, said he thought the district made the right decision with the information it had.
“There wasn’t really a lot of snow at 5:30 or 6 (a.m.),” Friesen said. “I feel like it was the right decision.”
Friesen said his daughters, having already gotten a brief reprieve on Monday, were also on board with the decision.
“They were stoked they got to spend a couple more hours at home (Monday) and then got to go to school in the snow, so it was a win-win for them,” he said.
Friesen added the waiting game is nothing new for Colorado parents, but noted some of them might not have been prepared for it this early in the year.
“It’s October, not January,” he said.
Barber said that might have played a factor in the hectic commute and some of the angst about driving in the snow on Tuesday.
“Because it’s the first snowstorm, there are a lot of people relearning how to drive in it. You can’t underestimate that, it’s a real phenomenon,” Barber said. “This is pretty typical for Colorado deeper in the winter. We have a whole winter more, so we want to make sure we are taking measures when it makes the most sense.”
While the morning commute was a bit of a mess, many cities and towns took steps to try and make the evening commute a little less stressful, with many opting for early closures.
The University of Colorado Boulder closed its campus at 12:30 p.m. due to the weather.
“A decision regarding delayed start or closure is based on the latest weather reports at the time of the decision and the anticipation of whether the campus can be safely accessed,” wrote CU Boulder spokeswoman Melanie Marquez Parra, who added that the storm coming in earlier than expected factored into the decision to shut down campus early.
As for Wednesday, Barber said it was too early to know what the district would do.
“We can certainly see what’s in the forecast, but Colorado forecasting can change in a matter of hours,” Barber said. “We’ll be monitoring that tonight and then (Wednesday) morning.”
Barjenbruch said Boulder County could see more snow this evening and overnight, along with single-digit temperatures. The only positive to the possibly record-breaking cold is it might keep the snow from melting and refreezing.
— NWS Boulder (@NWSBoulder) October 29, 2019
“We should manage to maintain a pretty dry track,” Barjenbruch said. “But people should still exercise caution, take a little extra time and use some common sense and everyone will get to work safely.”
Barjenbruch said residents can look forward to at least a little relief later in the week, with the forecast calling for clear skies by Thursday.
“We’ll get through it,” Barjenbruch said. “There is always sunshine on the other side.”
Five-day forecastCheck out what weather is in store for the Boulder County area hereNational Weather ServiceSee what the National Weather service is predicting here24-Hour satelliteWatch NOAA’s 24-hour satellite image hereReal-time conditionsSee what Boulder’s weather is like now at the National Center for Atmospheric Research here